Nonprofit Resource Connection Newsletter
First Quarter 2011
Martin Luther King Day Celebrated in Fargo
Howard Barlow, NRS, Fargo
The Human Relations Commission of the City of Fargo hosted the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at the historic Fargo Theatre on January 17. The theme of this year’s event was "Fearless, Walking in our Neighbor’s Shoes." The event celebrated our area’s diversity and showcased various cultures.
Dance, costumes and songs of different ethnicities graced the stage during the evening and introduced the audience to new cultural experiences. The program highlighted the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr. through story and song. Annual Human Rights Awards for work related to human rights and embracing Martin Luther King Jr’s. dream of justice were presented in three categories, youth, adult, and community organization.
An excited and enthusiastic group of young adults crowded the stage to receive the Community Organization award. These young folks are the Fargo-Moorhead Community Bike Workshop, a collective organization where all are welcome to learn to rebuild and repair bicycles. These volunteers repair and distribute used bicycles and parts. They teach "kids" of all ages the skills needed to keep a bicycle in good repair. People can "earn" a bicycle free by working with them. They have provided hundreds of people in the community with good and necessary transportation.
Dwight Schroeder received the adult award for his work in community and tenant education at the Village Family Service Center. Schroeder works tirelessly to help with illiteracy. He volunteers teaching English reading to an African couple who relocated to Fargo. Taylor Gess, a Fargo South High School Junior received the youth award for her work directing the Homeless and Hungry project and as lead planner for the Youth Summit, a convention for youth to meet to address the issue of hunger. She is also a member of the Intergenerational Committee on Youth (IGY). IGY’s mission brings youth and adults together to help make the city better. The theatre crowd warmly cheered the recipients as they accepted their awards and were congratulated by Mayor Dennis Walaker.
A 120-member youth chorus from Fargo schools entertained the audience with several songs and then closed the program by leading everyone in an enthusiastic singing of "We Shall Overcome," the song that has been such a rallying cry for inclusiveness. In support of the theme, school children have been doing art projects that were on display. Donations were accepted in support of two area nonprofit day care centers that serve the needs of many of the less advantaged families in the community. Attendees were encouraged in advance to bring a check or cash.
Interestingly, a new exhibit "Becoming American: Teenagers & Immigration" began in January at the Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County in Moorhead. This new exhibit features 50 black-and-white portraits that capture first-generation immigrants and children of immigrants, revealing a diverse array of teenage responses to the immigrant experience. It ties in beautifully with the Martin Luther King Jr. events and helps the community look at diversity from several different points of view.
It was a great celebration of diversity in the Fargo-Moorhead community.